[Vision2020] The Friday Letter
rforce2003 at yahoo.com
Fri Dec 3 08:51:49 PST 2010
December 03, 2010
The future -- for many it's a regular point of discussion. But here at
the University of Idaho, it's a mission.
As Idaho's flagship higher education institution, we seek to prepare
current generations for future success.
We often talk about the many benefits of our research and education.
We talk about helping communities improve their sustainability, their health
and their economic standing. We do this well, and are getting better at it as
a 21st century land-grant research university. However, our work is measured,
at the end of the day, by the success of each individual student.
As our world has changed, post-secondary education has become a
near-requirement for financial success. Increasingly, it is the game-changer --
between poverty and the middle class, between the middle class and upward
A recent study by Georgetown University demonstrates this
dramatically. In 1970, only 26 percent of middle class America had
post-secondary education or training. By 2007, that percentage had nearly
doubled. Similarly, in 1970, 44 percent of the economic upper class had some
form of post-secondary work. By 2007, this number had jumped to 81
More and more, the world in which we live is creating jobs that demand
a broad perspective and advanced education. Unfortunately, this coincides with
the state of Idaho experiencing a decline in students seeking post-secondary
education and training.
A recent study by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher
Education reported that the likelihood of an Idaho student attending
college by the age of 19 has dropped from 40 percent in the early 1990s to 36
percent in 2008. The national average increased by eight percent.
Though several studies have ranked Idaho as a top state for business
development, this is an unsustainable trend without workforce development. New
industries require an educated workforce. Idaho ranks 41st in the nation for
18 to 24 year olds enrolled in higher education and only 11 states had fewer
graduates per capita. New businesses, therefore, are more likely to import
employees for higher paying jobs. The loss of income and opportunity for
Idahoans because of a lack of education will run into the billions based on
the lost earning potential alone.
Idaho's Career Information System is signaling that the top 10 career
fields in Idaho's near future (2016) all require post-secondary education or
training. It's the University of Idaho's mission to improve the future by
meeting these needs. We do so through education, research and outreach...and in
the process by encouraging students to invest in themselves. We are proud
to partner with the Albertson's Foundation and others to ensure our state's
people understand the value and opportunity of higher education. And we are
proud to have the highest graduation rate in the state.
Our state legislature will begin discussing the value of the state's
investment in higher education in early January. Economic conditions will
once again force them to make difficult choices on top of reductions from
previous years. I encourage you to fully consider what higher education means
to our state's future and to share your ideas and opinions with your
Our faculty, staff and students are working every day to build a bright
future of Idaho. We appreciate your support.
M. Duane Nellis
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